Loire Valley: A fresh perspective

Lay & Wheeler Loire Valley Wines 2010 & 2011


During an all-too-short holiday near to Saumur last year, I was lucky enough to be able to squeeze in a few winery visits with wine-brokers Charles and Philippa Sydney. Having lived near Chinon for the best part of twenty years, few know the vineyards and winemakers of this region better than this husband and wife duo – who themselves produce wines under the La Grille label which are frequent best-sellers at Majestic Wine.  Their boundless enthusiasm for the wines made here ignited my own interest in this vast and beautiful winemaking region and I am delighted to bring you our first Loire Valley offer in a number of years.  Amidst the somewhat challenging Bordeaux 2011 campaign, this offer provides a fantastic array of age-worthy wines across the two most recent vintages (2010 and 2011).

Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc thrive in the Loire like in no other region in the world, creating wines that range from crisp and refreshingly dry, rich and oak-influenced, to the hedonistically sweet.  In the hands of sensitive growers, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir also excel, producing fine infusions of raspberry and cherry fruit that can demand years in the cellar to show their true worth.  The one defining signature of all these wines is their backbone of acidity – or nervosité.  Loire wines have an unmistakable vibrancy that means many of them age remarkably well.  This is not only true for the moelleux wines of Vouvray, but also the best Sancerres and Chinons.  For wine-lovers and wine-collectors alike, there is much to tempt them here.

There is great value to be had across the range. However, I have managed to whittle-down my favourites which I have listed below.  Incidentally, all of the wines in this offer would be a fine addition to any cellar, so I hope you will discover something here that takes your interest.  For more information, please call our sales team on 01473 313300 who will be happy to help you.

Edwina Watson

Edwina’s Loire Picks

2010 Savennières Roche aux Moines, Domaine des Forges
per case of 6 bottles in bond
This is a significant cuvée that displays all the power and complexity of the best Savennières with clear vineyard definition.  Hand-harvested in a series of ‘tries’ to ensure perfect levels of ripeness, the wine then undergoes partial malolactic fermentation in double-barriques which helps to add considerable body and richness; this is what the French would describe as ‘gras’.  Classic Chenin aromas of apples and lemons are accompanied by wonderful creamy oak on the nose.  The palate is very precise and round but with sharp, poised acidity and a unique toasty, nutty quality.  Elegant mineral notes combine with its great density to create a wine that is balanced and supremely impressive.  This is a truly exceptional dry Chenin that will provide much enjoyment in the mid-term. 

2010 Sancerre La Moussière Rouge, Domaine Alphonse Mellot
per case of 6 bottles in bond
The warm and ripe nose of summer berries, raspberries, strawberries and rhubarb is elegantly held in place by perfectly balanced and sophisticated oak.  This enticing scent leads to a palate that is wonderfully concentrated with beautiful depth; pure, sweet red fruit and spice notes.  The tannins provide precision, grip and finesse which is supported by a backbone of vibrant and fresh acidity.  This is an extremely impressive Pinot Noir from the Loire that is both refined and eminently significant. 

2010 Chinon Les Charmes, Domaine Charles Joguet
£66 per case of 6 bottles in bond
This cuvée comes from old vines in the village of Anché which provide a dense aroma of plum, blackberry and red cherry alongside redcurrant and herbal, leafy notes encased in a pleasant background of oak.  The palate is firm, with grippy, well-integrated tannins which gives an impression of neatness supported by its bright acidity.  Strawberry and raspberry marry with a hint of violet to create a beautifully defined and lifted finish. 

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